In today’s NFL, celebrations are nearly routine. But not all moves are created equal. Some are unfortunate, and in the case of the Chicago Bears‘ Lamarr Houston, they could prove quite costly. Here’s the story of one of the most egregious play celebrations of all time and how it hurt Houston.
The Chicago-New England game that preceded Lamarr Houston’s blunder
The game happened on October 27, 2014. According to NFL.com, the Patriots won, 51-23. It was a rout pretty much from the start. The Patriots hung 38 points on the Bears in the first half. QB Tom Brady had the same number of touchdowns (five) as incompletions. Tight-end Rob Gronkowski was fantastic as usual, netting 149 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
The loss wasn’t unexpected for Chicago, but it dropped them to 3-5. Brady performed at a high level for most of the game because he faced a light pass rush. That was due in large part to Houston and fellow Bears’ pass rusher Jared Allen being unable to get past the Pats’ offensive line. That changed late in the fourth quarter when the game was well out of hand.
The sack in question
It was late in the fourth quarter when the incident occurred. According to NFL.com, the Bears were down by 25 to the Pats. The lead was so comfortable, the team inserted then-backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo in place of Brady. With under four minutes left in the game, Houston was able to evade New England’s offensive lineman to put a body on Garoppolo.
Houston was in the midst of a disappointing season; he’d signed a $35 million deal with Chicago in the offseason. This was his first sack. It’s hard to tell what Houston was feeling. He probably felt some relief due to the high standards he was facing. Houston’s human, so in the moment he ignored the score and commemorated his own achievement. The decision would have regrettable consequences.
Lamarr Houston’s unfortunate sack celebration
Houston decided to celebrate the momentous occasion, but it had an unfortunate result. While celebrating the play, Houston injured his knee. This was no mild sprain, however. Houston tore his ACL. According to Houston, he knew he made a mistake. He said the following to reporters after the game: “I probably shouldn’t have celebrated like that, but it happens.”
The Bears didn’t punish Houston for the move. After all, missing the rest of the season was punishment enough for his actions. Team GM Phil Emery commented afterward:
“He knows he made an error, he’s come into all of our offices and apologized for his error. But ultimately the team paid a price, and at the end of the day Lamarr paid a bigger price, he lost the season. So, enough said.”
It’s fair to say Houston would never make a similar mistake again. He had to engage in a long rehab process following the event. It also wasn’t the only incident of its kind that season in the NFL. The Detroit Free Press reported that Detroit Lions player Stephen Tulloch injured himself similarly. What had to make the move tough to stomach for Houston and the team was the score of the game. It was out of reach, and Houston’s sack did nothing to change that.